A positive review by Stephen F. Hayes (The Weekly Standard Blog) on the new book Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor.
Congratulations to the San Jose Giants who last night won the North Division Championship of the California League. As I have mentioned several times, I love minor league baseball and saw about 25 games this year, about equally divided between the Giants and the Stockton Ports, both single A teams.
San Jose next plays the High Desert Mavericks, the South Division champions, in the best-of-five California League Championship Series. Go Giants!
On a side note, I really like the High Desert Mavericks baseball cap and have tried to buy one online for over a month, all to no avail. Last night I wrote a letter to the club wondering why they don’t have any replica hats, but as of yet have not received a reply. How can a baseball team not have hats? Sheesh!
Tom Gilson of Thinking Christian has a five-part series on Evidences for the Resurrection.
I guess today is excerpt day! Here’s a description of the book Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology.
Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology guides students and pastors to consider and evaluate the various ways Christians apply biblical texts to contemporary questions. Four different scholars present their preferred interpretive models in point-counterpoint style, and three additional authors follow with their own perspectives on questions of moving from Scripture to theology.
The Bible has long served as the standard for Christian practice, yet believers still disagree on how biblical passages should be interpreted and applied. Only when readers fully understand the constructs that inform their process of moving from Scripture to theology—and those of others—can Christians fully evaluate teachings that claim to be “biblical.”
Here, scholars who affirm an inspired Bible, relevant and authoritative for every era, present models they consider most faithful to Scripture: – Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.: A Principlizing Model – Daniel M. Doriani: A Redemptive-Historical Model – Kevin J. Vanhoozer: A Drama-of-Redemption Model – William J. Webb: A Redemptive-Movement Model Each position also receives critiques from the proponents of the other views.
Moreover, due to the far-reaching implications this topic holds for biblical studies, theology, and church teaching, this book includes three additional reflections by Christopher J. H. Wright, Mark L. Strauss, and Al Wolters on the theological and practical interpretation of biblical texts.
Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology empowers readers to identify, evaluate, and refine their own approach to moving from the Bible to theology.
You can read a short sample of the book here.
Are you a megachurch dropout? See here.
The Briefing, Australia’s leading evangelical publication, reminds me of an old favorite.
If you were a youngish Christian in the 1980s, it is almost certain that, at some point, someone would have pressed a copy of John White’s The Fight into your hands and urged you earnestly to read it. It was simply one of the standard Christian books of the era, and for several good reasons.
For a start, it was clearly and bracingly written. It had substance and bite, but wasn’t too complex or long. It covered the basics of Christian living and discipleship, but also provided a simple and memorable metaphor for understanding what Christian discipleship was really about. It cast the Christian life as a battle—a war. It didn’t undersell either the glories of being Christian or the difficulties, but presented a vision of Christian living as it really was, with all its benefits and joys, and challenges and dangers.
The Fight had deficiencies, of course (and some of them now seem clearer and more significant in retrospect). But it was required reading for any Christian—especially new Christians.
As a new Christian in the early 1980s, I can certainly remember reading White’s book! The article by Tony Payne continues:
In my completely one-eyed view, Paul Grimmond’s new book Right Side Up is The Fight for the new millennium.
Right Side Up is a basic book about what it really means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s meaty and challenging enough for every Christian to be inspired by afresh, and yet short and simple enough for new or young Christians to understand what the Christian life is really about.
The memorable metaphor of Right Side Up is the sense of difference and disorientation that we can experience as Christians. New Christians often report feeling that their life has been turned upside down—that nothing is the same any more. We know what they mean. Turning to Jesus as our master and Lord inevitably means becoming markedly different from the people around us. Our priorities change, our values, our worldview, our behaviour, our speech, the way we spend our time and money—all of a sudden, the way we used to look at things, which is the way that most of our friends and family continue to look at things, is turned upside down.
But it’s not upside down; it’s right side up. When we commit our lives to Jesus as our King, God liberates us to live life as it was meant to be lived in his world—in submission to his Son, Jesus Christ. As God’s Spirit works within us, we begin to live the ‘good life’—the life that truly fits with the way God has made us and the world to be. It puts us in the minority, and in comparison with everyone else, we feel like the crazy outcasts. But in fact, it’s the rest of the world that is upside down in their rejection of God and his will.
You can read an excerpt of Right Side Up here.
An online theological journal.
Themelios is an international evangelical theological journal that expounds and defends the historic Christian faith.
Its primary audience is theological students and pastors, though scholars read it as well. It was formerly a print journal operated by RTSF/UCCF in the UK, and it became a digital journal operated by The Gospel Coalition in 2008.
You can download or view issues of Themelios here.
Dr. John N. Oswalt, Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, has written a new book on the Old Testament.
Sixty years ago, most biblical scholars maintained that Israel’s religion was unique—that it stood in marked contrast to the faiths of its ancient Near Eastern neighbors. Nowadays, it is widely argued that Israel’s religion mirrors that of other West Semitic societies. What accounts for this radical change, and what are its implications for our understanding of the Old Testament? Dr. John N. Oswalt says the root of this new attitude lies in Western society’s hostility to the idea of revelation, which presupposes a reality that transcends the world of the senses, asserting the existence of a realm humans cannot control. While not advocating a “the Bible says it, and I believe it, and that settles it” point of view, Oswalt asserts convincingly that while other ancient literatures all see reality in essentially the same terms, the Bible differs radically on all the main points. The Bible Among the Myths supplies a necessary corrective to those who reject the Old Testament’s testimony about a transcendent God who breaks into time and space and reveals himself in and through human activity.
You can read a short excerpt from the book here.
A new website and organization dedicated to fighting left-wing bias on college campuses is now online. Here’s their mission statement.
CampusReform.org is designed to provide conservative activists with the resources, networking capabilities, and skills they need to revolutionize the struggle against leftist bias and abuse on college campuses.
Created to give conservatives powerful new weapons in their fight for the hearts and minds of the next generation of citizens, politicians, and members of the media, CampusReform.org facilitates the establishment of conservative student networks and supports their development as a powerful voice of activism on their campuses. It makes available new opportunities for groups’ interaction with alumni, parents, faculty, and other members of the broader community interested in taking a stand for conservative principles on America’s college campuses.
Connecting up-to-date communications technologies to a principled stand for limited government, the free market, national defense, and traditional values, CampusReform.org makes possible a new generation of student activism to identify, expose, and combat the radical left now.
The Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron has released the first ever comparative surveys of conservative and progressive religious activists.
The WSJ reviews Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol.
In the over-statement of the Century, a column headline from the Guardian:
If Obama can’t defeat the Republican headbangers, our planet is doomed.
In a related comment:
Well, Lord May, president of the British Science Association, has risen to the occasion with his call last week to mobilise religion as part of the crusade against global warming. May said that mainstream religions should play a key role in convincing people to become more aware of environmental issues and to change their behaviour in order to ‘save the planet’. By making this opportunist demand for the effective rehabilitation of God, an atheist moral entrepreneur has shown that it is possible to debase both religion and science at the same time.
May’s call to use religion to promote the cause of climate change awareness is the logical conclusion to a project – environmentalism – which in every respect is a moral crusade. Back in September 2003, the late American writer Michael Crichton characterised environmentalism as a powerful new religion. He was possibly thinking of the Lord Mays of this world when he said that ‘environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists’.
Old-fashioned religious themes are continually recycled by greens. Some environmentalists may joke about ‘green sins’ but they are deadly serious when they denounce evil polluters and deniers. In this contemporary urban religion, the carbon footprint symbolises human transgression, though absolution can be gained through carbon offsets. Green judgements on our diets, our procreation habits and our everyday behaviour are possibly even more intrusive than the pronouncements of medieval religious figures. Old-fashioned prophecy and divination have given way to speculation and alarmist warnings based on computer models. And the medieval inquisition that targeted heretics and witches has got a new lease of life in the current crusade against sceptics and so-called deniers.
In a post yesterday I provided a link to Peter Wood’s comments regarding a recent essay by Camille Paglia. In the Paglia essay, she made the following point:
Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it’s invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote “critical thinking,” which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms (“racism, sexism, homophobia”) when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it’s positively pickled.
To which Wood responded:
Independent thought and critical analysis of argument just cannot live in the same company with a curriculum in which the central premise is that all of cultural and social life can be reduced to the privileged oppressing the weak. When the terms of analysis are reduced to the race-gender-class triad, real analysis must stop. Independent ideas are instantly categorized as “bias” of one sort or another, while conformity to the stale “theory” is routinely praised as “independent thinking.” In contemporary elite education, all the intellectual exits have been blocked.
The “invisibility” that Paglia mentions is ensured by a curriculum that simply ignores what cannot be conveniently comprehended under the current ideological terms. Moreover, this has been going on for decades. Colleges can now pretty safely assume that candidates for faculty appointment who have attended American graduate schools have never seriously studied anything outside the charmed circle of ideological conformity. They need not be intentionally biased. They simply have no concept that dissent from the prevailing academic orthodoxies can arise from anything other than deep-rooted antipathy to manifestly wholesome ideas.
Now, in support of both Paglia’s and Wood’s contention, we have this recent case from East Georgia College.
The abuse of campus sexual harassment policies to punish dissenting professors has hit a new low at East Georgia College (EGC) in Swainsboro. Professor Thomas Thibeault made the mistake of pointing out—at a sexual harassment training seminar—that the school’s sexual harassment policy contained no protection for the falsely accused. Two days later, in a Kafkaesque irony, Thibeault was fired by the college president for sexual harassment without notice, without knowing his accuser or the charges against him, and without a hearing. Thibeault turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.
“If you were to write a novel about the abuse of sexual harassment regulations to get rid of a dissenter, you couldn’t do better than the real-life story of Thomas Thibeault,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Anyone with a modicum of respect for freedom of speech or simple fairness should be aghast at this blatant abuse of power by East Georgia College.”
Thibeault’s ordeal started shortly after August 5, 2009 when, during a faculty training session regarding the college’s sexual harassment policy, he presented a scenario regarding a different professor and , “what provision is there in the Sexual Harassment policy to protect the accused against complaints which are malicious or, in this case, ridiculous?” Vice President for Legal Affairs Mary Smith, who was conducting the session, replied that there was no such provision to protect the accused, so Thibeault responded that “the policy itself is flawed.”
Two days later, Thibeault was summoned to EGC President John Bryant Black’s office. According to Thibeault’s written of the meeting, which was sent to Black and which Black has not disputed, Thibeault met with Black and Smith. Black told Thibeault that he “was a divisive force in the college at a time when the college needed unity” and that Thibeault must resign by 11:30 a.m. or be fired and have his “long history of sexual harassment … made public.” This unsubstantiated allegation took Thibeault by surprise. Black added that Thibeault would be escorted off campus by Police Chief Drew Durden and that Black had notified the local police that he was prepared to have Thibeault arrested for trespassing if he returned to campus. At no point was Thibeault presented with the charges against him or given any chance to present a defense. Refusing to resign, Thibeault understood that he was fired.
I was excited today to find a website which I was not aware of named Unbelievable?, which is a radio interview/debate show on Premier Christian Radio (based in England). Here’s a blurb from the site:
Each Saturday, in the award-winning programme Unbelievable, Justin Brierley asks questions like:
Can Christianity live up to the claims it makes?
Can we trust the Bible?
Why should I believe in Jesus over anything else?
Justin tackles these and other issues, on a show that gets Christians and non-believers talking to each other.
Though most programs feature Christians and non-believers, some programs also deal with topics in Christian theology, or instead of Christians maybe Muslims debating with atheists.
The programs run around 90 minutes and can be found here.
New Humanist reports on Muslim creationism.
Inspired by the high profile of its Christian American counterpart, Muslim creationism is becoming increasingly visible and confident. On scores of websites and in dozens of books with titles like The Evolution Deceit and The Dark Face of Darwinism, a new and well-funded version of evolution-denialism, carefully calibrated to exploit the current fashion for religiously inspired attacks on scientific orthodoxy and “militant” atheism, seems to have found its voice. In a recent interview with The Times Richard Dawkins himself recognises the impact of this new phenomenon: “There has been a sharp upturn in hostility to teaching evolution in the classroom and it’s mostly coming from Islamic students.”
Andy McCarthy has a great column today on the “prisoner abuse” photos and the Obama administration.
In his column this week, the New York Times‘s Adam Liptak portrays President Obama as the fierce defender of our troops, sending his Justice Department to the Supreme Court to appeal a Second Circuit ruling that classified “prisoner abuse” photos must be disclosed based on a Freedom of Information Act demand by the ACLU. To the contrary, as I’ve argued before, if you consider a few facts Adam conveniently omits from his version of events, it’s quite clear that the president wants the photos disclosed.
It was his administration that originally chose not to appeal (and his press secretary who put out the word that an appeal was “hopeless”) so that the photos would be made public. Obama, however, was not prepared for the vigorous backlash from that decision — the outcry from the military, the intelligence community, Republicans in Congress, and the public over the propaganda victory he was gratuitously giving our enemies. So Obama “reversed” his Justice Department (as if AG Eric Holder had made the original decision without consulting the White House!) and ordered an appeal to show how pro-military and pro-national-security he is. In fact, this is simply the most expedient way to get the photos disclosed with a minimum of political damage: Assuming the Supreme Court goes along with the lower courts, Obama can release the photos and act as though he had no choice — the judges made him do it.
Peter Wood calls Camille Paglia the H. L. Mencken of our times.
A story about a military chaplain serving in Iraq.
Chaplain Darren Turner stands at the entrance to Ward 45-C at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a special coin in his pocket and trepidation in his heart. He is here to see a warrior who only two months earlier was hunting insurgents in Iraq — and is now a man without three limbs.
Spc. David Battle arrived here on Christmas Day, his legs and right arm blown off in a roadside bombing. On this dreary February afternoon, doctors still are not certain he will survive.
David Battle is a trophy of war. That’s how Turner describes the nation’s wounded.
Read this incredible eight-part story by Moni Basu here.
(h/t Michael Paulson)
The politics of the veil.
In the 21st century, the Islamic burka, the full-face-and-body veil, adopted by more women every day, has become the most potent human symbol on earth. But what exactly does it symbolize? Many say it stands for piety. No, that’s wrong, says Marnia Lazreg, an Algerian-born professor of sociology at the City University of New York. Piety has little to do with it; the Koran doesn’t even mention the veil. In truth, the veil stands for political ideology and male power.
It also establishes the wearer’s extreme distance from the rest of us. We recognize people by seeing their faces and we acknowledge their humanity by reading what their faces tell us. Without that information humans cannot come alive to each other. A woman wearing a mask is a woman declining to be human. Unable to look anyone in the eyes, lacking peripheral vision, her hearing muffled, she becomes an abstraction. Encouraging a woman to wear the burka is like offering her a portable isolation cell.